Residents of southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region have been mobilized for government-paid patrolling jobs to protect the ecosystem on the "roof of the world."
The regional environmental department said on Monday that the government has created 620,000 jobs for forest wardens, patrollers in water source conservation areas and wildlife preservation workers.
The department's figures suggested that since 2004, the regional government has spent 19.2 billion yuan (2.9 billion U.S. dollars) to subsidize environmental jobs.
All 3 million Tibetan residents can volunteer to choose these jobs, and most of them opt to do the work part time, according to the department.
Purbu, 51, of Gyibo Village in Xigaze City is a forest patroller responsible for reporting fire hazards.
The cargo truck driver just spent 1 million yuan to build a new house. He said the annual pay of 6,000 yuan for patrolling does not matter much to him, but he is willing to patrol in the winter, when the fire risk is high.
"We have depended on the forest to live for generations. The government pays to have it protected. How could we not do something?" he said.
The city's virgin forest, located 4,600 meters above sea level, yields abundant resources for farmers like Purbu.
Qiao Liwen, a 12-year-old primary school student in Lhasa, the regional capital, is among the youngest patrollers.
She and other students at Nanmuxiang Primary School pick up garbage on the street and throw it into a garbage classification and recycling station at the school, which they call the "Green Bank."